Seahawks clinched the NFC West for the first time since 2016 in their Week 15 win over the Rams.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the Seattle Seahawks suffered a defeat to the New York Giants at home. After that loss, many were selling their stock on the Seahawks as they felt this team wasn’t good enough to make a run in the playoffs. Also, at the time, the Los Angeles Rams were playing their best football on both sides of the ball. Well, fast forward to the present time and the Seattle Seahawks are NFC West champions, thanks to another stellar performance from their defense.
All year long, the knock on this football team has been their poor defensive play. Whether it be in the backend or applying pressure up front, Seattle really struggled in the first half of the season. But, as I’ve said many times, the NFL season is a marathon, not a race. As we approach the end of the race (the regular season), the Seahawks are looking better than ever.
After leading them to victory in Week 15, the Seattle defense once again showed up and showed out in Week 16. Here is the weekly grade report for the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West clinching game.
While Russell Wilson is falling behind in the MVP race, his team is molding into a Super Bowl contender. In the win over the Rams, Wilson didn’t do anything flashy, but he made all the right plays. He finished the game completing 20 of 32 passes for 225 yards and 1 touchdown. Early in the game, Wilson had missed TE Jacob Hollister running up the sideline on what would have been a touchdown. But, the two were able to hook up later in the game as Hollister caught the game-sealing touchdown.
It was sort of a poetic justice moment as just a year ago, Jacob Hollister was stopped 1 yard short of winning the NFC West for the Seahawks. Russell Wilson walked into Lumen Field rocking a Kobe Bryant mamba edition jersey along with the Kobe 6 Grinches that just released on Christmas Eve and he channeled his inner mamba in the 4th quarter. He led the Seahawks on a 9 play, 80-yard drive that saw him complete all of his passes, including the touchdown to Jacob Hollister.
Coming into this game, many were expecting the Seahawks to feed Chris Carson as he wasn’t available the first time these two teams met. While he finished the game with 0 touchdowns, he did have one or two explosive plays that we missed in the Week 10 defeat. Carson finished the game with 16 touches for 69 yards. His presence alone forced the Rams linebackers to stay honest, which was something they didn’t have to do in Week 10.
Carlos Hyde and Rashaad Penny also got in on the action and helped contribute to the 95 rushing yards that this backfield was able to total. Although Penny didn’t see too much playing time, he flashed his potential in the 3 times he touched the ball. Out of the three running backs, Penny has the home run speed that we saw last year before he suffered the torn ACL. I expect Penny to play a bigger role in this offense as he gets into better shape.
How about TE Greg Olsen getting activated from the IR and returning to the field? Olsen has exemplified what it means to be a warrior and has contributed a great deal to this Seattle team. His leadership has helped this locker room filled with young men. The storyline of the Week 10 matchup was Jalen Ramsey going up against D.K. Metcalf. In Week 10, Metcalf only had 4 targets. Well, that changed as in the Week 17 victory, Metcalf was targeted 8 times.
Oftentimes, before the snap, Wilson would motion Metcalf to the other side forcing Ramsey to be in no man’s land. All year long, I’ve discussed the toughness Metcalf has displayed in terms of mental fatigue and that was once again on display yesterday. He showed no fear going up against Ramsey and looked forward to the challenge as supposed to running from it. He finished the game with 6 catches for 59 yards. Tyler Lockett had another quiet game with only 3 catches for 44 yards, but he found the opportune times in the game to get open. WR David Moore made a great catch on 3rd down in the opening drive of the second half that allowed the Seahawks to move the ball down the field. The TE group also put together a nice game, helping Wilson out in the passing game.
Last week against Washington, this Seattle offensive line held their own, allowing zero sacks. A major storyline coming into this game was the Rams defensive front versus this “mediocre” Seattle offensive line. To the Rams’ credit, they were able to generate tons of pressure, sacking Wilson 5 times while also hitting him 8 times. But, in the crucial moments of this game, the Seattle offensive line held its own and allowed Wilson to make the throws.
In Week 10, the Rams defensive unit dominated the game. They knocked Wilson out of rhythm and forced him into making poor decisions with the football. That was not the case this time. When going up against Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd, you just expect them to make plays. It wouldn’t have been realistic to assume that they wouldn’t get any pressure on Wilson. The Rams defense is a top 3 defense in the league and is a large reason why they are 9-6. But, in the most crucial times of this game, the offensive line did their part and got the job done. Truly, that’s all that matters.